Without the Noise

by Carrie Bachler
I wake up on my weekday mornings to an alternative rock song from the 90s or a love song that I haven’t heard in years. My black cat sits on the end of the bed while I blow dry my hair. From the very first, everything is loud. I move through the day, and I turn my music up, up, up in the car. I answer the ringing phone; I listen to ads for fresh produce or a sale for shrimp as I wheel my cart through the grocery store; I run the dishwasher that’s loud enough to drown out the television; I sauté onions; I talk, talk, talk.

Sometimes, on a really good weekend morning, my neighbor’s bass won’t wake me up as it pounds through the walls and my cats won’t knock things over until I give them attention. I’ll wake up on my own accord, drifting slowly out of sleep, and before I open my eyes I’ll wonder why I feel so different. I always realize, eventually, that it’s because the room is so peaceful and quiet, so absolutely still.

I have a love for the noise of life. Everything from the day-to-day din to the drunken chatter at a dark bar, the music and singing at a concert, the hockey sticks hitting the ice in an arena. It wouldn’t be the same if it were any other way. But when we take all of that noise away, it seems that the silence speaks louder than anything else. Sometimes, it’s refreshing and needed, like my peaceful weekend morning or a good book late at night.

Other times, though, it’s there in the unspoken words, in the growing rifts, in the rips and tears that were never mended.  People are gone who should be right there beside us; fights have torn things apart that should be whole; pains inside are louder than anything that could be spoken. At those times, we might ache for the days that are filled with noise, for the wine chiller beeping when the wine is nice and cold and the vacuum leaving a room soft and clean.

In this issue of Halfway Down the Stairs, we hope to present you with a collection of stories and poems that explore the peaceful side of silence, the painful side of silence, and everything in between. We hope that you enjoy the collection, and we would like to thank all of the wonderful authors who have contributed to this issue. We look forward to our next issue that will be released in March of 2011 with the theme of Haunted. If you are interested in contributing, please see our submissions guidelines. You can keep informed of all of our deadlines, publication dates, and other news by visiting our Facebook page, which is located here .